UNDERSTAND YOUR MAN - chords and comments
The song was recorded for Cash's 1964 Columbia album "I Walk the Line", which was certified Gold by the RIAA in 1967 and is regarded as one of his best studio albums. The content was 7 new recordings of former Sun-hits, and 5 brand new ones; this one among them. The single (flip side "Bad News") went to number one on the country charts for six weeks, and the song also crossed over to the Top 40, peaking at number 35. It was credited "J.R.Cash", and I first heard it in -67. But ... I'd heard it before, hadn't I? The answer came to me with his next studio album "Orange Blossom Special" where he had included Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right".
The years passed away, and I lost interest in both Cash and Dylan, digging deeper in folk music and what they nowadays call "roots music". Some years ago I came upon a song called "Who's Gonna Buy You Ribbons When I'm Gone?" from -60. WTF? I dug even deeper, and found the root.
Folksinger and folklorist Paul Clayton (1931-1967) adapted it from the public domain traditional song "Who's Gonna Buy Your Chickens When I'm Gone". Clayton was an institutor in Greenwich Village, and Dylan captured this song for improvement. Elektra sued Columbia Records for copyright infringement. It was settled out of court, and Clayton and Dylan remained friends.
Obstinate rumours tell that Clayton wanted it to be more that "friends" ... Clayton was gay. These rumours also tell that Dylan responded with writing "It Ain't Me, Babe", and closed their relationship with "It's All Over Now Baby Blue". Spiteful bullshit, or...? However, Clayton - nowadays almost forgotten, and most appreciated for promoting the appalachian dulcimer, got haunted by heavy depression for several reasons, and committed suicide in 1967. Get to know him better by clicking the icon at the bottom of this page.
A few years later, Dylan and Cash made friends. One of the results was this song; an obvious rip-off. But none of them were gay, and both were signed with Columbia, so a new lawsuit was out of question. Still nobody knows who's gonna buy you neighter chickens nor ribbons. And this song became Johnny's last public performance: at the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, on 5th of July 2003.
don't call my name out your window : I'm leaving
I won't even turn my head
don't send your kin folks to give me no talking
I'll be gone like I said
you'd say the same old things that you've been saying all along
lay there in your bed and keep your mouth shut 'til I'm gone
D F# Bm G
don't give me that old familiar crying cussing moan
D A7 D Bm
understand your man I'm tired of your badmouthing
D A7 D
understand your man